Diana K98 pellet rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord

Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana K98
Diana’s K98 Mauser pellet rifle is very realistic.

 

This report covers:

    • Real deal
    • The rifle
    • Underlever
    • The stock
    • Finish
    • Sights
    • Size and weight
    • Tools?
    • Manual
    • Good feeling

It’s here! The Diana K98 air rifle is finally here and today I start testing it for you. I have fired it several times as of this moment, and my advice is if you want one, get it. Diana appears to have done everything right.

Real deal

Luckily for all of you I am a real airgunner, rather than some marketeer who is just doing this as a job. When it comes to looking at a new airgun like this, I know what to look for. For example, the stock is real wood! The picture on the box looks so good that I thought for a moment Diana had gone the plastic route like the Mosin Nagant BB gun I recently tested. No, sir! This one is all wood!

The rifle

I received the .22 caliber rifle and, yes, it does come in .177 as well. I thought given the power they claim (1150 f.p.s. in .177 and 850 in .22) that the larger caliber was the better choice. Normally I would give you the serial number of the rifle I am testing so you could hope to buy it after I’m finished, but I’m going to hold off on that for awhile with this one. I have a gut feeling I’m really going to like this airgun.

Underlever

Obviously this isn’t a bolt action rifle like the Mauser K98 firearm. This one is an underlever with a sliding compression chamber that several other Diana rifles share. We know from experience that Diana has mastered this style of spring-piston powerplant. However, this K98 is unique. I am guessing that the powerplant was borrowed from the Diana 460 Magnum , but the underlever on the K98 is concealed as part of the Mauser firearm design. Instead of a cleaning rod section sticking out from the front of the long stock, what you see is the end of the underlever. It isn’t quite as long as the 460 underlever, but the cocking effort has still been greatly reduced. I will measure it for you in Part 2, but I would estimate that it’s at least 10 pounds less than the 47 pounds I measured when I tested the 460 Magnum.

Please remember, I am only guessing about this relationship. I base my guess on the fact that a manufacturer will use existing parts for a new model if they work, rather than going to the expense of creating all-new parts. That saves development cost plus it keeps the parts inventory lean. It’s why carmakers put one engine into many different models. Regardless of what parts are in the rifle, it is easy to cock, compared to the more powerful 460 Magnum.

The sliding compression chamber has a safety to keep the chamber from closing unexpectedly when you load the rifle. This safety is conveniently located for a right-handed shooter and I believe not as convenient for a lefty. When the rifle is cocked the safety slides back with the compression chamber and must be pressed to return the underlever and to slide the compression chamber home. Loading is directly into the breech, and on this rifle there is a hole in the spring tube below the barrel, so don’t drop the pellet.

Diana K98 chamber release
The release for the sliding compression chamber is that button on the right side of the receiver, ahead of the closed chamber. Note that the Mauser banner is displayed proudly on top of the spring tube.

The stock

As noted, the stock is real wood, including the short upper handguard. On the Mauser K98 firearm the upper handguard keeps your hands away from the hot barrel when firing rapidly, but on this airgun it’s just for style. Also for style is the metal bushing in the butt of the stock. On the firearm that bushing is steel and is there for disassembling the bolt in the field. On the airgun it’s just for decoration and it’s made of non-ferrous metal. The last thing to note on the stock is the metal buttplate that very much resembles a Mauser K98 buttplate. This one is non-ferrous — probably to save weight.

As you can see, the stock is cut for the sling. The front barrel band has a heavy bar for the front part of the sling, just like the firearm. In fact, the most notable thing that’s not on this air rifle is a bayonet lug. It would get in the way of the underlever, anyhow!

Finish

I think the finish is exactly what airgunners want. The wood is finished with a semi-gloss finish that’s close to a military oil finish. The metal parts are deeply blued or blacked appropriately. You don’t blue aluminum, so those non-ferrous parts are probably anodized, but they all appear uniform. The only plastic part I can find is the triggerguard. Even the trigger blade is metal.

Sights

THANK YOU, DIANA! There are no fiberoptics on these sights! I might just buy the gun for that reason, alone! The front sight is a Vee on a wide base. And it adjusts for elevation! Yes, just use the special tool that comes with the rifle to turn the front sight one complete turn to change its height by 1 mm.

The rear sight is a fully adjustable leaf sight with a squared notch. It isn’t a copy of the Mauser K98 firearm rear leaf sight, but it’s located in the same place and it will work fine. I plan on testing the rifle thoroughly with the open sights.

There is a Diana scope base on the rear of the spring tube and I will mount a scope and test it that way for you, as well. But I will not leave a scope on this rifle. This is a rifleman’s rifle that was never intended to be shot with a scope. Yes, I know all about the 98K sniper rifles. If you examine them you will see that many compromises had to be made to mount scopes. But I will test this rifle with a scope for you — I promise.

Size and weight

This is a very large and heavy air rifle, as it needs to be to copy the Mauser K98 firearm. It weighs 9.5 lbs. which is slightly more than the firearm weighs, and there will be small variations for the density of the wood. It is 44 inches long, which is 0.3-inches longer than the firearm. So, this airgun is one close copy! This one happens to be quite muzzle heavy which I prefer for the stability it gives.

Tools?

Yes, the K98 comes with a complete set of tools! You’ll need them to adjust the front sight and the trigger. What the big wrench is for I haven’t figured out yet.

Diana K98 tools
This tool set comes with the rifle.

Manual

Whoever wrote the manual was a shooter — or they knew one! It’s well-written in 4 languages. And — (drum roll) — it is unique to this air rifle, alone! No cheezy photos and instructions for a trigger you may or may not have on your one-size-fits-all air rifle!

Good feeling

I have a real good feeling about this air rifle. A good feeling as in — Diana made it right in every way. I once called the Diana RWS 350 Magnum a rifleman’s air rifle, but if this K98 tests out the way I think it will, the 350 will have to move over!

Kids — we are going to have fun with this one!

54 thoughts on “Diana K98 pellet rifle: Part 1

  1. BB— My Diana 98K arrived yesterday, and after a 3 hour shooting session I have a different opinion of this rifle. In my humble opinion, Diana did not get it completely right. I shoot English long bows and other traditional bows. I can shoot bows up to a draw weight of 60 pounds, however, I find this rifle hard to cock . In my opinion, it is too powerfull for the intended purpose. It should be at a HW30 power level. The butt plate is too smooth. The rifle slipped off my thigh when I was cocking it, and I was lucky to escape injury. I solved the problem by putting self stick stair and skateboard sandpaper on the butt plate. The rear sight overhangs the breech and interferes with loading. If you drop a pellet , while loading, you will see how hard it is to shake it out of the receiver ( heavy , clumsy rifle upside down with the lever sticking out ). It is very muzzle heavy and does not balance like a 98 Mauser. If you put a sling on the rifle, it gets in the way when shooting. Mauser 98 slings are ok for carrying , but a poor design for shooting. I like the trigger, and I am getting good groups at 10 meters. I rate this rifle as heavy , clumsy and too powerfull. If I decide to keep it, it is because I have a collection of military trainers, and this rifle looks good in the collection. I will not scope it because it would make the rifle even harder and more awkward to cock. I hope that a detune kit will be coming out for this rifle. The stock is a 2 piece stock. The small forestock is showing signs of becoming detatched because of the loading lever. And last of all, if I do not rest the rifle gently on the rest ( or my hand) the loading lever unlatches. According to the booklet, this will damage the rifle if fired with an unlatched lever. —–Ed


    • Zimbabweed

      Mine is still in the mail and my excitement has not diminished. I believe this K98 is somewhat of a collectors replica edition. Performance and design features have obviously been compromised from todays standards to achieve the replica look and as a collector the looks are the primarily reason I purchased it. I have also ordered a very detailed Airsoft version with a replica scout scope.
      Perhaps this rifle is not meant for everyone and it probably would not be my first choice for a no nonsense uncompromised all day shooter. As for me, I’m just glad it happens to be a usable shooter as well.
      Your information will be helpful when do get to shoot it. Especially the lever situation.
      What do you think the intended purpose for creating it was ? I think it was just a whimsical idea to use what they had and create something unusual and gratifying to own. Not perfect but in line with the current trend to replicate real firearms for fun shooting.

      Bob M




  2. Pingback: Diana K98 pellet rifle: Part 1 | Airguns: Air Rifles and Pistols

  3. I am happy that the historical/replica collectors have something to get excited about. While this is not my “cup of tea”,… it appears that Diana really did a nice job for all of the reasons B.B. mentioned. It is not cheap on cost but the quality aspects seem to be there. I like the fact that the tools are included. That is a nice touch,…. as long as they don’t implode like many cheap screwdrivers and tools do the first time you use them.

    I would be interested to know how the cocking lever is held in place. I am assuming a spring clip of sorts. I am only familiar with the TX and LGU style that have a ball detent that contacts the end of the cocking arm.

    Have fun guys and hope it’s all you want it to be.


  4. BB, I am going nuts seeing this rifle. For some unknown reason I greatly fancy the Mauser 98k and consider it to be the best bolt action rifle of the time.
    If it turns out to be accurate,….. well I hope it stays in the market for next 10 years allowing me to get one.
    BB, how accurate is the original firearm ; as I have read 1/2 inch at 100 yards to all the way to 4 inches at 100 yards in various forums.


    • Riki,

      Military Mauser firearms aren’t that accurate. Most of the 8mm are good for 2.5-4 inches at 100 yards. Those that do better were made into sniper rifles and target rifles. The 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser is the exception. I have shot many of them into less than two inches at 100 yards.

      B.B.


      • BB

        I can concur with your reply to Riki. Hand loading can extract more accuracy for most military rifles which makes things interesting. The Swedish Mauser ’96 does stand apart. Its hard to improve on the military load for the 6.5 x 55. I would add the Finnish heavy barrel Moisin Nagant and the 30-40 Krag to the exception list.

        Decksniper


      • Another “many years ago…” comment.
        I was working at a Bay Area Law enforcement specialty store catering to the local community as well as the FBI, DEA, HIghway Parol, etc. As you may imagine with such an eclectic clientle some interesting items would occasionally appear. One day we received a batch of about 10 or so 98K Mausers in 7.62 NATO. Yup, they’d been converted in Israel to participate in the Suez campaign but the whole fandango was all over before the conversions were finished. Or so the story we got when they arrived. There was quite the conversation about where they’d been and what they’d done and who they’d done it to.
        Africa, Asia, South America? We even had one vote for Mars, but probably not there.
        But they were all quite functional with new parts where needed and of course brand new barrels. Considering my mostly lack of adult supervision, I would select two or so a day, run over to our nearby range and shoot a couple of groups. I concur, most shot three or four inches at the hundred yard range which I considered okay. But there was a prize in the bunch that consistently shot groups half that size or even a little better.That was the keeper. Learned that was the norm on the 98K, one in ten or so was considerably better than the rest. (My opinion was it had to do with the fitting and mounting of the barrel and action, who really knew in those days.)
        Foolishly I sold that one off in a weak moment…but I know where it is and one day…it shall return.


      • Another exception in the Brazilian 98 Mauser chambered in 7X57mm. These were made in Germany. I have one and so does a friend. Both will shoot groups in the 1 to 1.5 inch range with the right ammo. That is with the issue sights.

        Mike


    • Riki,

      Quite a few years back I bought 10 Brazilian Mausers. They were 7mm. These rifles were awesome! The first one I cleaned, I loaded with 5 rounds and on the fifth shot I hit a 2 liter soda bottle at 250 yards. That was with the open sights with no adjustments.

      As for the K98s, the 8mm is not as accurate however if the rifle is still in good shape you might be able to work up a pretty good load for one.


  5. The wrench in the kit is to remove the “barrel nut” in front of the front sight, need to get that off to get to the internals. Getting all the barrel sleeves, sling holder etc. is a bit of a pain but not bad…don’t ask how I know…looks like it has a Diana 34 spring in it with the 460 action. I like the weight of the rifle, makes it very docile during firing. I am wondering what they did to get the 850 fps for velocity, most pellets shoot in the 700’s for me with the RWS Hobby at 800. Don’t have the barrel or action run in yet but looks promising for accuracy….


  6. BB,

    I have been keeping my eye on this rifle and I am glad you finally have your hands on one. I have hesitated about this one because feel I would need to sell something like my Diana 46E to open a slot in my collection. Now, if the power and accuracy is equal to or exceeds that of the 46E, I would gladly do such unless you find that you also have similar issues as Ed.


  7. Mikeiniowa, always good to hear or read your comments in this blog or in person! I know you’re very knowledgeable. You’ve been missed at some of the airgun shows! Semper fi!


  8. B.B.,

    Of course some underlevers are at a disadvantage when it comes to cocking effort because the lever tends to be shorter than some break-barrels’. Mikeiniowa’s mini report above has his shooting Hobbys at 45 more fps than the Air Arms TX200 MkIII. The cocking effort for the TX is 29 pounds.

    How does the length of this cocking lever compare to that of your TX?

    And what a Hakim-looking air rifle this is!

    Michael


  9. B.B.,

    As a lefty who owns a TX I should comment that my preference with undelevers is such that I load the pellet with my right hand and hold the rifle up with my left. For me it is a much more natural posture, and it also allows my hands to move into their firing positions more quickly as they are already close to those locations.

    Therefrore, I have a righty TX200 MkIII action in a lefty TX200III stock. Eventually I’ll have my cabinet maker brother-in-law add a recessed area to the right side of the stock and perhaps extend the recessed areas on both sides all the way towards the muzzle end for appearances. I will also need to sell off a walnut righty stock and lefty action. (The wide, ambidextrous loading trough of the HW97K was the reason I strongly considered it before I opted for the TX instead.)

    Michael


    • Michael,

      I have a left also and we spoke sometime back about yours. I was under the impression that yours already had the right hand wood cutout for the loading port. It sounds as if your rifle is just one in which a right action got dropped into a left stock,…. with the only downside being a an unneeded cutout on the left side and none on the right. That said,… I suppose there is no option with a left stock and right hand loading with correct wood cutouts,…. only true left and true right in which the port, cutouts and stock match.

      Like you, I much prefer the right hand loading,…. even though I shoot left.


      • “It sounds as if your rifle is just one in which a right action got dropped into a left stock,…. with the only downside being a an unneeded cutout on the left side and none on the right.”

        Chris, yes, that’s it exactly. My brother-in-law has the skill and access to high-end cabinet making power tools to add a cutout on the right side. To make everything look good, what i think I’ll have him do is make the cutout he makes on the right extend all the way to the end of the forearm and then do the same to the left side cutout. That way it will appear to be how the forearm is designed, with two “contours,” one on each side. And hey, it ought to reduce the TX’s weight by a good three ounces or so! ;^)

        Michael


  10. BB—-Re the 16 joule version of the Diana Mauser—-now you tell me ! If I had known that, I would never have bought this exercise machine. How can I get one? Can I get the parts needed to detune this rifle to the 16 joule level ? —-Ed


  11. Bob M— Re the purpose of this rifle— The military stock makes this rifle a poor choice for a hunting rifle, compared to the sporter stocks on other dedicated hunting rifles. It is also unsuited for serious target shooting. That means that it was made for fun shooting. So why give it unnecessary power ? Why make it so hard to cock? BB has said that there are 16 joule versions of this rifle. —–Ed


    • Zimbabweed

      Glad we agree on the fun shooting. For me that usually means shooting from the shoulder, passing the rifle around and trying to hit some sort of reactive target … way out there.
      As for the power, well it’s not a rifle for kids and evidently it has been detuned somewhat. 850FPS for a 22 is not too powerful. Unnecessary power? Any thing less would be disappointing for a big heavy rifle. I guess you could call it an accurate adult plinker in this configuration.
      The hard cocking, not sure about that yet. Possibly a trade off to get the look. Now my Ruger Magnum is hard to cock but shat should a given when the word Magnum is part of its name. At 69 they are all hard to cock, and PCPs and CO2 start to look better.

      We all know the first question we have to ask ourselves before purchasing a gun is what you plan to use it for and then proceed to eliminate the competition by comparing one against the other. I know I have purchased more than one and never asked myself that question, but I have a wide verity of interests in guns and can easily place it in a category of use after I receive it, without any disappointment.
      You have evidently answered that question in hindsight.

      Perhaps your “Jumping the gun” when you order one. Kick back and let BB have a go at it first. Shoot him some questions and avoid future disappointments. Make the most of this outstanding resource.

      Bob M


  12. My only question right now, since I haven’t taken mine out of the box yet, is where do you find that sling to go along with it. That should have been included or at least offered by PA as a recommended accessory.

    AirGumby


  13. When my wife’s father passed away some years back, and my wife was the executor of the estate, the family found an old Mauser military rifle. They brought it to me as I’m a life long shooter, competitor, handloader, and have owned my share of firearms. I’m not a collector and new nothing about the value of these Mauser rifles. I did a littl research and found the values could go as high as $7000. I advertised on some gun sales websight with pictures and a description of the firearm. I was contacted by an FFL individual who was a collector, and he offered me $3000. I took it and gave it to the family estate, and everyone was happy. I would have liked to have that rifle, but no way could I pay $3000, so sold it and shipped it to the buyer. Each of the three of the brothers and sisters got $1000, and they were very pleased and none of us knew that old rifle, that the father sometimes carried around in the trunk of his car, would be that valuable. Low end on one would be a few hundred dollars.


  14. BB,
    This combines memories of a now departed friend’s K98 and “tuning” my own 36-2 under lever. Looking forward to shooting it with you (virtually:)). That buttplate should be less brutal even on the 35 Joule version than the iron one could be on the 8mm, I hope! Now I’ve got this plus a Hakim on my list of interesting air rifles that I might just really need…


  15. Bob M—My .22 cal Diana Mauser 98K was chronographed by PA. It had a high of 940 fps and an average of 934 fps. I have only fired it 98 times, and it is showing signs of leading. I am 80 years old, but I still shoot 50-60 pound draw weight long bows. The Diana is supposed to require 36 pounds to cock. It should be easy for me to cock it, but it isnt. As I have already stated, I collect military trainers, so this rifle is a must have for me. I have contacted PA re de tuning it. —-Ed



    • Zimbabweed
      What can I say …. we seem to be surrounded with conflicting information on this one. Perhaps time will tell.
      Hope it turns out OK for you.
      Mine should be in today, Wed, but it has rained and the FedEx driver might not like the dirt road condition and turn around ! Been in transit for 6 days so far to reach me here in Ca.
      Bob M


  16. I asked many times in the past if the air gun manufacturers would start making military look a likes in a spring gun or pcp configuration.

    The Mauser is cool, a Mosin Nagant or maybe even a M1.

    They don’t have to be precise copies. The K98 with a 460 magnum under lever power plant is cool. Heck it’s got a semi realistic scaled down kick or as us air gunners call it. Shot cycle. And then a Mosin in pcp. Couldnt you see a big bore .35 caliber big bore pcp gun with a Mosin Nagant body on it with a big 30 mm tube Hawke scope with a big modern sidewinder wheel on it marked out for yardages. I would love to show up at a shooting range with that gun and start popping of steel spinners at a 100 or heck even a 150 yards. People would come and look at that fun I’m sure. Or even better yet at one of the long range general bench rest completions that have become popular.

    Matter of fact I know a lot feild target people come up with their own stock and such for their guns. How cool would it be to have a Tx power plant in a M1 body and show up at a feild target match with it.

    It’s that cool factor to be different but the old same if you know what I mean. How’s it said. The old new is new again. I’ll say it again like I have in the past. I love theses old military guns fitted in air gun clothes. Cool stuff.


  17. Gunfun 1—-PA did a 10 for ten on my “Mauser”. They used .22 RWS hobby 11.9 gr pellets. Military rifle stocks are designed to be clubs and fit every soldier. They seldom make good target or sporter rifle stocks. They may be adequate in service rifle matches, but then every shooter is using the same kind of stock. —–Ed


  18. BB

    Hope you enjoy this one my friend. Had the chance to shoot one a bit before it went out the other day and I was stunned at the accuracy. It was also a .22 and after a quick sight in, I had no trouble keeping 5 JSB heavies inside a quarter at 45 yards. The weight most certainly makes the rifle easier to shoot than some of the other super magnum Diana’s. Then again, also took a few shots with a .22 AR8 and was pleasantly surprised at the accuracy of it also. 25 yards, put 3 shots through the same hole….don’t remember doing that since I broke out the .20 cal R9 at the beginning of the summer!

    Working on a video of the 350 Ntec now, but in .177. I am keen to see if the accuracy is on par with the .22 Diana’s I’ve seen so far. Should be interesting.

    Anyway…look forward to seeing how you fare with this one. Been very impressed with these new offerings from Diana thus far.

    Tyler



  19. FedEx delivered mine today….It is a beauty!. As a replica of a heavy, clunky military rifle, it is consistent in that it is heavy and clunky. Almost all WWII battle rifles were weighty and unwieldy. They had to be built truck-strong to withstand training and battlefield use. Like most WWII bolt-actions he Mauser 98 is also after all a design from the turn of the 20th century…. No plastics or aluminum used in guns then, so this airgun replicates that rifle with its massive feel.

    There is also a big difference between a military replica and and a military trainer. The Anschutz-Hakim trainer fits that bill because of it’s sheer ruggedness. I have also shot a Korean lever action trainer that was just as rugged. This new Diana 460 based Mauser kar 98K will not survive the abuse those Egyptian or Korean Army airguns survived at the hands of raw recruits. My old Diana model 50 .177 underlever air rifle would serve better in that respect with it’s parkerized finish, tap-loading breech and natural finish wood. That equally heavy air rifle could have been more authentic a trainer if the stock were configured like this new Diana Mauser 58. Maybe Diana/Mauser can configure a trainer version like that?……But I guess the market wouldn’t be there.

    So don’t compare the Diana/Mauser Kar 98K air rifle with your lighter more modern air rifles. You should remember that many shooters sporterized their heavy, clunky surplus military bolt-actions, in order to make them handier in the field. Chopped up their stocks, removed bayonet lugs, re-calibered them for lighter ammo, mounted scopes & target sights…..etc. If you did some of that to this replica, then you would end up with a Diana 460 or something lighter.

    If you really want a lighter handier military replica, you would have to look at the 4.4 lbs. Winchester M14 CO2 bb gun. Half the weight with lots of plastic. Or maybe the more powerful but pricier AirOrdnance Modoc with PCP system and aluminum barrel at 6.5 lbs. Airgun design is after all, always a compromise…….There are always trade-offs involved to achieve what makes you happy.


  20. I got mine and I really like how smooth it shoots. Cocking it is no big deal for me. I bought the Stutzen when it came out, modified the sights a bit and really enjoy the accuracy it provides at 20 yards. The Mauser 98 will receive a full work out this weekend. The first three shots out of the box put a smile on my face. I’m starting out with JSB 18 gr.@ 20 yards. This one is a keeper for me!



  21. Ok so i have been researching Diana rifles with the idea of purchasing one for a very long time. What i have noticed is if you just compare the FPS and effort to cock with the stats on the Diana website for the model 460 they are the exact same for this gun and they have always been the same and that is to say the RWS & Umarex numbers have always been inflated. As far as i can tell after reading years of reviews Diana sometimes makes the cocking mechanisms of the under-lever a bit too tight. While most of them loosen up a bit closer to the 36lb some are tight enough to cause an eventual failure in a cocking lever link pin. As far as i can tell it is luck of the draw sort of, but the majority of the time they just ease up as they break in. Post model 46 i think they have just used 2 under-lever power plants one for the model 430 and one for the 460 both of these getting a little extra attention in the 440th & 470th models along with slight increase in FPS. Don’t take my word for it go take a look at the Diana website. better yet email a Diana rep. and ask them.


    • Mike,

      You have been researching, you say? Have you read my reports? I test each rifle before I report the cocking effort. I tested the 460 and it cocked with 47 pounds of force. How does that line up with what you have read?

      I will be testing this rifle’s cocking force soon. Then we will have a number that has actually been tested, rather than one that may have been copied without ever checking.

      B.B.


      • Yes i read that one and noted same issue cropping up in first 3 reviews of the K98 some are smoother than others. I look forward to your test results. I have been putting off buying a Diana for years, but i am one of those people that likes having iron sights and the strap attachments kind of seal the deal. In the end though it has to be accurate and my plans for it are as a hunter with a UTG 4-16×56. I am not however set in my plans. I do like the looks of the K98 and the utility plus the price. It is going to be a hard choice. That i live in the country and have no physical access to any of these makes your reports and every other source i can find important because every rifle i buy is pretty much sight unseen.

        Thanks for all your help, now and in the past.


        • Mike,

          As I read your comment I am working on Part 2, the velocity test. I am being very careful to cover this rifle as thoroughly as I can, because I believe a lot of airgunners are waiting to read about it.

          I can tell you this today — so far the test is going very well!

          B.B.


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